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Full text of "A hermit in the Himalayas"

A   HERMIT   IN   THE   HIMALAYAS

us to move Involuntarily so fast that it might be said we slide down
all the way, steadied at dangerous places by our pointed Alpine
sticks. In this manner we cover about two thousand five hundred feet
in record time and reach the bottom of the gorge after a wild passage
among bushes, trees, thorns, stumps, rocks, stones and loose earth.
With our arrival there we gain our first reward for all this trouble
at such a rapid rate.

One of the loveliest little scenes reveals itself. We find ourselves
in the bed of a river which has dried up from twenty-five feet in
width to a narrow torrent but a couple of yards wide. Huge rocks
and tumbled boulders surround us on every side. Gorgeous flame-
coloured rhododendron flowers are spangled against the dark-
green bushes and trees which stretch along the river sides like an
avenue. The water itself dashes madly along at a fierce pace, tumbling
over low waterfalls here or skirting round tremendous boulders
there or musically gurgling between multitudes of clean-washed
stones and pebbles which glisten with every hue and tint in the
bright shafts of sunlight. High above us tower the tall walls of the
gorge into a limpid azure-blue sky flecked with delicate formations of
milk-white clouds.

We cross the swift-running stream and sit down upon a boulder
to drink in this beauty. The water laps at our feet. I watch the
sunbeams play about the stones. The fascination of finding Nature
in her wildest and grandest form in this region never passes, for there
is a magnetic lure about our environment which is indescribable.
Well does the ancient Sanskrit poet say: "In a hundred ages of gods
I could not tell you of ail the glories of the Himalayas.** I do not
think that the scenic splendours of this fifteen-hundred mile mountain
world can be overwritten. Whatever one says of it will never be
exaggeration.

Prince Mussoofee soon decides to take a ramble along the river-
bed. We jump from boulder to boulder across the running water
with the help of our sticks or crunch the pebbly ground beneath
our shoes as we make our way for about a mile between the walls
of the gorge, which increase in precipitousness as we proceed,
until they become quite perpendicular and completely unclimbable.
These huge walls of granite look like a gigantic Gothic cathedral
whose towers and buttresses have been riven in two by an earth-
quake. Now and then we stop and chat and listen to the musical
tinkling noise of the rushing stream as it splashes quickly over the
rocks in its onward course. In a month or so the latter will be con-
verted into a broad, torrential river by the monsoon rains, and a
ramble such as this will then be impossible.

We return from our ramble tired but contented. We start for
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